As the 2012 national election heats up, there’s no doubt the healthcare debate will be at the forefront of the conversation. And though the conversation mostly concerns the question of insurance coverage, there are many issues that would benefit from being part of the discussion. Chief among them is organ donation, a topic that affects hundreds of thousands of lives but is still widely misunderstood. So, in honor of April being National Donate Life Month, we raise the issue once again and ask everyone to take a moment to learn about this very serious matter.
According to www.organdonor.gov, approximately 18 people die every day due to a lack of available organs. People die from disease when there is no cure. People die waiting for a transplant because there is a lack of available organs. In the first case, it’s up to people in the medical science industry to develop new treatments in the hope of finding a cure. In the latter case, it’s up to average people to register as donors and increase the number of available organs.
If the statistics aren’t disturbing enough, what’s even more upsetting is that the reason for these deaths is largely due to a lack of awareness. While there is plenty of support for research into diseases such as cancer or heart disease — with popular events taking place throughout the year — the same cannot be said for organ donation. Without a prominent place for it in the public consciousness, the lack of awareness translates into a lack of donors. Still, there are other people who are aware but misinformed. They have bought into the many myths of organ donation, most likely the erroneous belief that doctors will let them die for their organs. First of all, it’s their job to save lives — yours included. Remember: many transplant recipients are registered donors, too.
The first and most important step to becoming a donor is to sign up with the state donation registry; Florida’s registry is online at www.donatelifeflorida.org. It is important to understand that even if you have “organ donor” designated on your driver’s license, it’s best to discuss your intentions with your family members, friends and doctors. Also, if you have a will or living will, it’s a good idea to include donation in it as well.
While a cure is still being sought for so many terminal diseases, organ transplantation is the answer for thousands of patients each year. It is a shame that the main obstacle is a matter of PR, not the ER. One organ donor can save up to eight lives, positively affecting the lives of their family and friends as well. This is an instance in which one person can make a huge impact. That is why we urge everyone to consider signing up with the donor registry. It’s a matter of life and death, and you can make a difference.